Perilous Voyages: Czech and English Immigrants to Texas in the 1870s

Overview

Lawrence H. Konecny and Clinton Machann take readers beyond the bare facts to the human stories of immigration from the point of view of English and Czech immigrants whose tales provide fascinating counterpoints to each other and to the glowing claims about Texas made in William Kingsbury?s pamphlet. Perilous Voyages combines the original text of Kingsbury?s 1877 pamphlet, a private diary kept by an Englishman named William Wright, and oral histories by descendants of Moravian immigrants to allow modern readers ...

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Overview

Lawrence H. Konecny and Clinton Machann take readers beyond the bare facts to the human stories of immigration from the point of view of English and Czech immigrants whose tales provide fascinating counterpoints to each other and to the glowing claims about Texas made in William Kingsbury’s pamphlet. Perilous Voyages combines the original text of Kingsbury’s 1877 pamphlet, a private diary kept by an Englishman named William Wright, and oral histories by descendants of Moravian immigrants to allow modern readers to experience some of the lure that brought people to the state in earlier days.

The first part of the book includes a complete reprint of Kingsbury’s pamphlet, today a rare document, giving insight into the historical context and rhetoric of Texas immigration. The realities faced by the early settlers stand in sharp relief to Kingsbury’s sometimes extravagant claims. In the second part, the experiences of the immigrants themselves are illuminated through Wright’s private diary. His 1879 journey began with a shipwreck off the coast of Spain, but, undaunted, he continued in another ship and eventually was able to record his first–hand impressions of the land and people of Texas. The third section of the book narrates the story of a group of thirty-six men, women, and children that left their rural Moravian homeland in 1873 to pursue dreams of prosperity and the good life in Texas. Their ship ran aground in the Bahamas, and they were left to ride out a terrible hurricane before continuing to Galveston and, finally, to the peaceful farmlands of central Texas.

The experiences of the English and Czech immigrants are vividly recounted here; the two stories share hopes and perils, hardships and enthusiasms. Kingsbury’s pamphlet gives insight into the sparsely settled region and the dreams that led not only to the cultivation of the land but eventually to the cities that now rise from once-barren plains of Texas.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Lawrence H. Konecny is a manager of training and technical support at the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company’s Technical Training Center in Overland Park, Kansas. His great-grandfather immigrated from Moravia to Texas in 1881, and Konecny’s interests in his family’s history inspired this book as well as several articles on Czech and German immigration to Texas.Clinton Machann is a professor of English at Texas A&M University. His love for Czech Texan history and literature has led him to write this work as well as well as several others, including Czech Voices: Stories from Texas in the Amerikán Národní KalendáÍ, which was published by Texas A&M University Press in 1991. Machann has a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin and has served as the chair of the Board of Directors of the Czech Educational Foundation of Texas. He is also editor of Kosmas, an interdisciplinary academic journal that focuses on Czech and Slovak studies.

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Table of Contents

Pt. I W. G. Kingsbury and his pamphlet for the Galveston, Harrisburg, and San Antonio Railroad 13
A description of south-western and middle Texas (1877) 18
Pt. II The Texas diary of William Wright, February 13-July 1, 1879 71
The diary 79
Pt. III The wreck of the Missouri and Czech immigration to Texas in 1873 103
The emigrants 109
The ship 118
The last voyage of the Missouri 121
From shipwreck to storm 124
End of the journey 137
Excerpts from Texas co cil stehovani (Texas as a destination for emigration, 1882) 145
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